Save on big city travel with multi-attraction passes

You can see everything you want to see without breaking the bank

Lyn Mettler
Personal finance writer
Specializes in writing on travel, family and food

Save on big city travel with multi-attraction passes

When my family and I visit a big city, we like to stay busy and see all of its attractions. 

And when you ask my two boys their favorites places we’ve visited are, they always say destinations like New York City, Paris and Las Vegas that have many attractions. 

But visiting attraction after attraction can get expensive fast, so I am always looking for ways to save. Enter multi-attraction passes.

What are multi-attraction passes?

These passes bundle multiple attractions together and charge you a much lower price than buying tickets to each one separately. They often come at a savings of half of what you’d spend if you buy each ticket individually.

These passes usually allow you to skip long ticket lines, as your pass – available on your smartphone with most companies – serves as your ticket, so you can jump right to the entrance line.

The passes also save me tons of time, as I don’t have to research and buy each ticket separately online before our trip, or in a line when we arrive. Instead, it’s all done in one fell swoop.

California, New York passes among best values

We are fans of multi-attraction passes such as CityPASS, the Go City Card, the New York Pass and the OMNIA Card for Rome and the Vatican.

CityPASS includes a handful of attractions. For example, in San Francisco, you get four attractions for $89 – a savings of 44 percent. The attractions that are part of the pass include a cable car and city transportation pass (very handy!), the California Academy of Sciences, a bay cruise, the Aquarium of the Bay and a choice between the Exploratorium or the Museum of Modern Art. The passes are good for one year.

Though not specific to one city, one of the best deals going is the Southern California CityPASS. It grants holders a three-day park hopper pass to Disneyland and Disney California Adventure (where it can also be used as a FastPass), as well as a ticket to SeaWorld San Diego and Legoland California for $367 per person – a savings of nearly 30 percent.

See related: Sharing miles with friends, family: These airlines allow it

In New York City, our favorite was the New York Pass, which included more than 100 attractions to choose from. You can select between one and 10 days for which the pass is valid, and you can visit any of the attractions during that time. Prices range between $124 to more than $300, but the company frequently offers discounted pricing. The New York Pass is part of a family of city passes that include London, Paris, Dublin and Las Vegas.

Another great multi-attraction pass option is the Go City Card, which is available in 17 different cities worldwide. These passes also let you a select a number of days, during which you can access all available attractions or visit a handful for a lower price. 

Use passes to get around on trains, buses

Many passes also come with transportation options, which can save you money. On a trip to Rome, we used the OMNIA Card’s 72-hour Rome Metro Pass to ride the city’s metro trains and buses everywhere from the Forum to the Vatican. 

Some passes come with “hop-on, hop-off” bus tours such as Big Bus Tours, another favorite we use to get the lay of the land when visiting a city for the first time. These tours are usually on double-decker buses, which give you a different view of a city and its architecture. They visit key stops and allow you to get off and get back on when you’re done. It’s a way to quickly see a destination’s main attractions without killing your feet. In San Francisco, it even drives over the Golden Gate Bridge!

Most rewards cards don’t count passes as ‘travel’ purchases

Unfortunately, most travel credit cards do not code these passes as “travel,” which can allow you to earn double or triple points on purchases. For example, Chase Ultimate Rewards cards like the Chase Sapphire Reserve and the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card exclude attractions and tour operators from their “travel” category. 

The Citi ThankYou Premier Card lists “tour operators” and attractions as “travel,” which earns 3 points per dollar, but it’s a rare exception. 

Instead, you might consider using a card that earns multiple points no matter the purchase type, such as the Barclays Arrival Premier World Elite Mastercard or the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card, both of which earn 2 miles per dollar for any purchase.

Wherever your upcoming travels take you, consider a multi-attraction pass to save time and money!

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Updated: 01-21-2019